Nashville parents can have opinion on shooter’s work, judge rules

Parents of about 100 families will be allowed to formally object to the release of the diaries and writings of the attacker who killed six people at a Nashville Christian school in March, a judge said Wednesday.

The parents of the three killed 9-year-olds and nearly all of their surviving classmates, as well as the school and adjoining church, were killed in Monday’s protests after journalists, gun rights groups and lawmakers filed a lawsuit to force the release of hundreds of pages of diaries and writings left by the shooter. The hearing asked to join the case and objected to their publication.

The judge, Judge I’Ashea L. Myles of the Davidson County Chancery Court, acknowledged that parents “are in a unique position, in the shoes of their minor children.” Since these children are victims of crimes that police are currently investigating, The judge held that parents had the right to intervene on their behalf.

The decision did not address more complex issues Whether and how to publish the mass shooter’s work, officials still must grapple with balancing constitutional rights, the public’s hunger for answers about their motives, and the fear of triggering another devastating act of violence.

But the judge’s order gives those most directly affected by the shooting a chance to make their case in court as victims and survivors. It was the last day of school for Covenant School students, who gathered for a church service Wednesday with parents, staff and Nashville police officers.

“We appreciate the opportunity to represent our children and loved ones in this case,” Brent Leatherwood, the only Covenant School parent who attended Monday’s hearing, said in a statement. “Our intent is to protect our families and do everything we can to prevent this horror from spreading to any other community.”

While several parents wished to remain anonymous for fear of harassment, others were willing to testify or submit written statements, attorneys for the families said.

In her ruling, Premier Myers noted that there is little precedent for such intervention in Tennessee, but she cited the legal protections afforded to juvenile records, the focus on cases and the fact that children have been targeted as examples of what she has done. reasons in support of the decision. parents.

The judge also agreed to allow Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church to intervene, arguing that both institutions have “sufficient personal interests” to warrant an opportunity to argue over the release of the writings.

In another six-page ruling, she wrote that she was “shocked” by their argument that the writings may contain information not necessarily accessible even under open records laws because they are private institutions. She also acknowledged police warnings that the investigation into the shooting was still ongoing and releasing the writings prematurely could jeopardize that work.

In her ruling, Premier I’Ashea L. Myles noted that Tennessee has little precedent for such intervention.Credit…George Walker IV/AP

Nashville city and police officials, who blocked the open records request, citing an ongoing investigation, have submitted a redacted version for court review and offered to release it.while the police quickly shot the assailant They have yet to formally determine a motive or search some summons records during the attack.

However, the parents have asked the court to lock up the shooter’s entire paper trail, warning it could cause further pain and trauma. Schools and churches have expressed their concerns about the safety of the buildings and said making the writings public could set the stage for other school shootings.

at Monday’s hearingLawyers who pushed for the swift release of the writings questioned whether parents, schools and churches had the legal standing to intervene, or to uphold protections for victims of crime. They also questioned whether private schools could assert certain privacy rights under public records laws and warned against limiting First Amendment protections.

Only a handful of officials — including a Nashville city attorney and FBI employees — reviewed the writings. The documents were also examined by Chancellor Myers, who set out a hearing timetable for lawyers to continue wrangling over the release of the documents.

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